A few months back, April 27 - May 2, 2011, to be exact, the World Poker Tour stopped at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown. The event aired this week as part of FSN’s continuing coverage of Season IX of the WPT. The stop’s $10,000 Main Event drew 433 entrants and created a prize pool of $4,156,800, with $1,122,340 reserved for first.
This marked the first time the WPT held a stop in Florida. The state has become a hotbed for poker over the past year. As is the case with most Part I episodes, the entire tournament was recapped beginning with Day 1. Hoyt Corkins, Gavin Smith, Antonio Esfandiari, and Jason Mercier were among the slew of pros in action. Unfortunately, none of those players were able to survive the opening day; on the other hand, Randy Dorfman not only survived, but he thrived and emerged as the Day 1 chip leader with 160,000.
By the end of Day 2, Todd Terry was leading the remaining 145 players with 296,400 in chips. Day 3 saw Maria Ho, Annette Obrestad, and Lauren Kling hit the rail, leaving Abbey Daniels as the last woman standing with 51 players remaining. On Day 4, the money bubble loomed as the top 45 players were set to get paid. Unfortunately for Vinny Pahuja, he earned the unfortunate title of bubble boy.
An interesting fact about poker in Florida is that players only need to be 18 to play. While no one 18 to 20 finished in the money, young Alexander Condon of Sioux City, Iowa, lasted the longest of the players in that age group. His accomplishment earned him an autographed electric guitar from Aaron Lewis, lead singer for the band Staind. Coincidentally, Condon is the cousin of big-name poker player and former WPT final tablist William Reynolds.
A few players who did manage to make the money were WPT announcer Mike Sexton, who took home $31,176 for 27th place, which was his third cash of Season IX; Noah Schwartz (18th - $35,333), Nick Avena (13th - $39,490), Blair Hinkle (8th - $91,450), and James Mackey (7th - $124,704).
Here are how things stacked up at the top of this week’s broadcast.
WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown Star Final Table
Seat 1: Abbey Daniels (2,184,000)
Seat 2: Tommy Vedes (1,622,000)
Seat 3: Allen Bari (1,976,000)
Seat 4: Taylor von Kriegenbergh (4,424,000)
Seat 5: Curt Kohlberg (611,000)
Seat 6: Justin Zaki (2,165,000)
First Hand: With the blinds at 12,000/24,000 and a 4,000 ante, Taylor von Kriegenbergh raised to 48,000 with from the cutoff. Abbey Daniels was in the big blind and made the call with . When the flop came down , Daniels was the one to take the initiative by leading out for 65,000, and von Kriegenbergh called.
The turn saw Daniels fire out 90,000, von Kriegenbergh call, and the follow on the river. Daniels decided it was time to slow down with a check, eventually folding to von Kriegenbergh’s 354,000 bet. Ship the first pot to von Kriegenbergh, who happened to be playing his first WPT event.
Kohlberg Doubles: Curt Kohlberg raised to 58,000 from the hijack only to have Tommy Vedes three-bet to 138,000 from the small blind. Kohlberg responded by moving all-in for 441,000 more, and Vedes made the call.
The flop was no help to Kohlberg, and neither was the . However, the river gave him a Broadway straight and he doubled to 1,206,000.
Set Over Set: Abbey Daniels raised to 63,000 under the gun with and Taylor von Kriegenbergh called from the button with . The flop delivered both a set and both Mike Sexton and Vince van Patten seemed to know there would be fireworks.
Daniels bet a modest 75,000, von Kriegenbergh called, and the came on the turn. Daniels bet 150,000, von Kriegenbergh raised to 300,000, and Daniels moved all-in for 1,076,000. Von Kriegenbergh snap-called and was left shaking his head after discovering the bad news. The river changed nothing and Daniels doubled through the chip leader.
One to Watch/Five Questions: The WPT’s “Ones to Watch” segment is built around ten young pros who are destined for success. William Reynolds was the first to make a final table (WPT Hollywood Poker Open), but Allen Bari tied that feat on this broadcast. Also, Kimberly Lansing sat down with Ones-to-Watch member Jason Mercier in the “Five Questions” segment. The two talked about Mercier's success, casual dress, and his favorite game — pot-limit Omaha.
Kohlberg's Jacks vs. the Lady's Queens: Curt Kohlberg looked down at and raised to 100,000. Abbey Daniels was on the button and peeked down at the superior , putting in a three-bet to 250,000. Action folded back to Kohlberg who slowly wrapped his hands around his chips, pushing his stack of 1.33 million into the pot.
Daniels thought for a few moments before uttering, "call." Kohlberg was clearly disgusted as he rose from his chair. He seemed resigned to his fate as the flop provided no help, but when the spiked on the river to give him a set, his expression turned to one of pure shock. When the filled him up on the river, allowing him to double to 2.75 million, Kohlberg ran around the stage and celebrated with the gorgeous Royal Flush Girls.
The Best Hand Folds: Curt Kohlberg raised to 125,000 from the cutoff with and received calls from Justin Zaki () on the button, Abbey Daniels () in the small blind, and Tommy Vedes () in the big. All four players proceeded to check the flop and watched as the dealer burned and turned the .
Daniels checked, Vedes bet 235,000, Kohlberg folded, Zaki called, and Daniels also came along for the ride. The river was a gin card for everyone because it gave Vedes a straight and both Daniels and Zaki flushes. Daniels, who held the worse flush, immediately moved all-in for 845,000 and Vedes made a quick call with his losing straight.
Zaki, who obviously didn’t know he held the best hand, shot back in his chair and removed his sunglasses, clearly flabbergasted by all the action. “I fold,” he said with a bit of reluctance in his voice. Needless to say, Zaki was disgusted when he saw the 2,925,000 pot could have been his. Instead, it was Daniels who more than doubled into the chip lead.
Tune in Next Week: Next Sunday FSN will air Part II of the Season IX WPT’s Seminole Hard Rock Showdown with all six players remaining! Be sure to check your local listings. If you happen to miss it, don’t forget you can read the recap right here on PokerNews.
Who Will Be the First Seminole Hard Rock Showdown Champion?
*Photo courtesy of WorldPokerTour.com